Video - 40:36
By Harvey Heinkel, Management and Communication

TransAlta uses two IT programs related to Asset Condition Monitoring. One is called Tracks which is an interactive program that is available to all operations and mechanical maintenance supervisors to add equipment risk or running concern and then rate them at a risk level of 1 to 10. The equipment itself is rated with a number (same as in SAP) for criticality. When these numbers are totaled it gives managers a good idea of risks that exist on their units and a ranking of those risks.

The other program used is called Equipment Health Report. This report is strictly created and managed by the condition monitoring group. The equipment health report indicates as a color code any concern with vibration, lube oil, thermography, ultra sound, electrical testing or other. The program was designed with color coding to make it a very quick review. This health card is reviewed by managers and planners weekly to determine right time to do maintenance work. The list shows all critical equipment and ranks them in the following categories as color codes.

  1. Equipment Running Well
  2. Minor concerns that are stable or can be corrected on line
  3. Condition that is bad but stable
  4. Condition that is worsening and needs attention soon or next outage
  5. Condition that is bad and could cause immanent equipment failure.
  6. Inadequate Testing

TransAlta Vibration Analysis program is now 11 years old and is one of the most sought after programs within the plants for verifying work plans, verifying work completed or just general information. The program started in 2002 with just 1 analyst but has now grown to 5 analysts all with an advanced level of training or well on their way to getting to that level. Similar to the Infrared inspection program TransAlta tracks losses prevented for the vibration inspection program. The Vibration program was credited with preventing $3.11 million in losses in 2012 and a total of $14.11 million over the past 5 years. This program is so much more than losses prevented as the technicians are constantly being utilized as a resource for equipment repairs equipment alignment and other items related to rotating equipment.

The Thermography or IR program started in 2004 with a part time thermographer. Who then became full time in 2005. The Infrared Thermography team pioneered a new method for Hitachi inspecting boiler tubes when they were commissioning the new Keephills unit 3 coal fired plant in 2010. Thermography is used on a multiple of areas including the list below.

  1. Loose connections on motor leads and MCC cable connections
  2. Hot bus connections
  3. Inspecting transformers
  4. Plugged fuel pipes
  5. Inspecting steam traps
  6. Checking for passing valves
  7. Inspecting liquid leakage lines
  8. Inspecting various types of coolers
  9. Checking for air ingress into the Precipitator
  10. Poor insulation under cladding
  11. Checking for slipping v-belts
  12. Hot bearings
  13. Trending critical area's on motor compressor sets.
  14. Locating hot spots once a fire has been put out.

The effectiveness of the IR program is tracked thru generation losses avoided and correlated to a direct cost benefit. Equipment benefits are tracked and communicated monthly to plant management and staff through a Reliability dashboard. TransAlta use a risk weighted tracking system to help determine actual losses to the company. For instance some piece of equipment could cost the company $1,000,000 in costs and lost revenue but if the likelihood of failure was only 10% the savings would be listed as $100,000. The Infrared Thermography program was credited with preventing $1.78 million in losses in 2012 and a total of $16.78 million over the past 5 years. Even though we only have the 1 thermographer, the vibration analysts and motor testing person have all been trained to a level 1 and have access to and do use the camera's to verify questions they may have.

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